This COVID-19 lockdown has forced me to cook at home more than ever. And unfortunately, I haven’t learn to embrace the joy of cooking yet. My bestfriend even asked me to watch Julie & Julia after hearing about my lack of enthusiasm for cooking. (Nice movie, btw!) But unlike Julia who learned to cook because she loved her husband and loved to eat, I don’t enjoy eating. LOL. I guess that’s one enlightenment I got from the movie. I don’t like cooking because I don’t like eating. Hahaha.
I started cooking only after moving in with RK at the age of 27, to be engaged and married. And the reasons I started and am still cooking are:
- RK likes me to cook so I cook because I love him. Disclaimer: does not mean he likes my cooking 🙄.
- It’s cheaper. Also the reason why RK likes me to cook 😂.
- It’s healthier.
And today, we’d talk about the 3rd point because it’s been in my head. Last weekend, a cancer survivor mentioned during an interview that diet is a lifestyle so she chose vegan food as her lifestyle because it helps her. Today, a bunch of cancer survivors talked about different diets in the group chat; about how it’s a personal choice for your own unique well-being, not because someone said so-and-so diet prevents cancer. Everyone’s cancer and body is different so our diet should be personalized too.
I agree 100%.
Colon cancer is largely a lifestyle cancer. That means that there’s even more responsibilities on my shoulders to ensure that my lifestyle (food being a big part of it) does not conspire with cancer cells against me.
When I was diagnosed with colon cancer at 25, so many do’s and don’ts were tossed at me.
- “Don’t eat egg, it’s toxic.”
- “Don’t eat chicken, there’s hormone.”
- “Don’t eat fried food, they cause cancer.”
- “Don’t eat meat, it’s acidic.”
- “Don’t eat sugar. Cancer feeds on sugar.”
- “Don’t eat carbs, it’s sugar.”
Why did I survive cancer at 25 to not enjoy eating for the rest of my 50 years of life? I was already underweight and didn’t fancy eating to start with.
So I told myself to only take what I believe in and what I feel good about. After all, stress is another big culprit in cancer development. In fact, I rank stress higher than food so I appointed stress as my benchmark for what I can and cannot eat:
If I feel stressed eating any food, don’t eat — even if it’s healthy food and vice versa.
Poor RK is tasting (or not tasting if you get what I mean) the food choices that I made because I’m more strict about my food choices at home. What I can’t see being put into my food when I eat out, I can’t be stressed about. #selectiveignorance #stressfree
Also, I don’t want to 100% eliminate any particular food in my life if I can’t commit to banning it for life. Because I’m afraid that reintroduction may later shock my system. Just my own musing.
Moderation is key.
So let’s see which bad boys didn’t make it to my grocery list and kitchen cabinet.
Recently RK “complained” (he was smirking) to his mom that I don’t make baked beans (one of his fav) for him at home because I don’t buy canned food. Aww thanks for noticing my ban on canned food 😂. Maybe for that I should break the rule once in a blue moon.
Anyway, I don’t like that canned food is stored in cans with plastic lining. That’s all. LOL.
This influence came from my surgeon. One of the things he told me to stay away from was preserved food. I generally stay away from preserved food (like jeruk/pickles, asam, salted egg, salted fish, dried prawns, etc) but have some exceptions for anchovies to make soup base and recently bought dried mushroom, also to make soup base. My soups are too bland 😬.
RK already had a ban against processed food (fishballs and minced meat included) for personal health reason before I got cancer. We ate at a kopitiam once during one of our first dates and he left all the fishballs out in the soup. I thought he’s a weirdo. But bam! I got cancer and now our guts are compatible too. 😅
This got to be the toughest ban on my list because many food items in the supermarket are processed! Pasta, cereal, soy sauce, bacon — these are the processed food that I consider not the healthiest but I allowed because I need to live. LOL. As a compromise, I choose organic pasta (tried wholemeal, hated it), wholemeal cereal and less salty soy sauce (took me forever to buy my first bottle of soy sauce).
Fun facts: I don’t have oyster sauce at home because I haven’t make peace with it. I bought pasta sauce once or twice and have been living with homemade sauce since.
White flour (white bread as a result) and white sugar are bleached to appear white. It’s quite easy to swap this out because I don’t buy flour and sugar much anyway. For bread, I choose wholemeal bread mostly. It’s also more nutritious.
Side track: I used to not like wholemeal bread before but I can’t quite tell the difference anymore now. Likewise for brown rice and grains. I used to not like it. P/s white rice is not bleached but polished.
It’s hard to avoid sugar altogether so I reduce sugar where I can (in drinks, mostly). In fact, I just realized the other day that our pack of sugar just ran out after almost two years. The most sugar I used was probably my attempt at making teriyaki sauce for the first time. Did you know that teriyaki sauce is mostly just sugar and soy sauce?
Wait. Maybe I used more sugar in red bean soup… Even that, RK was complaining my dessert didn’t taste like dessert: zero sweetness. This is probably why I avoid making dessert at home. I don’t want to personally add cups of sugar in and know how much sugar is in the food when I eat it. #ignoranceisbliss
Exception: ketchup, chili sauce, and occasionally other sauces and jam.
I stir fry. I pan fry. I air fry. But I don’t deep fry. Fried food is probably the hardest thing to forego for me at home and outside… So for now, no deep frying. Coconut and olive oil (which I use at home) are not cheap either so let’s save the oil for health and finance reasons.
Red Meat & Shellfish
I don’t ban but limit red meat (beef, salmon, tuna) consumption in and outside home because I still need nutrients from red meat. Also, I don’t know how to cook beef up to RK’s standard so I usually don’t wanna risk getting complaints 😆.
Btw, I can’t decide if pork is red or white meat so I have reduced pork consumption. I only buy pork ribs sometimes to make soup; even that, RK doesn’t like the pork soup I make so I’m not enthusiastic to cook too.
As for shellfish, I limit my intake outside and never ever cooked any myself before. I don’t know how and I’m consciously limiting anyway so no reason to learn cooking them.
Glutinous rice is hard to digest and I had a gastrointestinal cancer. After my colectomy surgery to remove part of my colon, my surgeon warned me that glutinous rice would block my colon. That warning was applicable for the recovery phase only but I never went back on full-on mode since. I’d take in moderation once in a blue moon but surely no need to learn making any at home.
I think that’s all?
Is the list too long or too short? Is it good enough to keep those (hopefully nonexistent) cancer cells at bay? I don’t know. But this is what I’m comfortable to exclude at the moment so this is what I’m living with.
Looking back, my diet has changed tremendously since cancer. I had all of the bad boys above in my diet regularly (home cooking and eating out). I guess that’s why I eliminated them also — I’d never know what exactly caused my cancer but my old diet is a good starting point.
I have recently compiled grocery list, recipe cheat sheet and meal plan template that’s aligned with my nutrition profile based on a DNA test I did a while ago. Perhaps I’d write about that next time.
Disclaimer: I have zero medical background. This is not a medical advice. This is my personal food ban list that makes me feel good emotionally.